Massive Monster makes unusual games that are hugely fun. Founder, Julian Wilton started the studio with two mates in Melbourne in 2016. They all had a flash games background but wanted to pivot to consoles and make games that were highly distinctive.
‘We wanted to make personality games – highly polished games where gamers have fun in strange worlds,’ says Wilton. ‘Our first hit was Adventure Pals, which made US$1.2 million. That wasn’t bad for three people working from home.’
Massive Monster’s next game, Never Give up, was less successful. But the trio didn’t give up, and immediately began working on a huge new concept, Cult of the Lamb. The trailer is extraordinary and has already clocked up over 750,000 views. And it’s helped Massive Monster to sign up with a major UK publisher.
Wilton’s journey to a major publishing deal shows how small Australian studios are now creating big global games.
‘Our first step was to make a simple demo,’ says Wilton. ‘That impressed Victoria’s film and games agency, Vic Screen. They gave us a A$40,000 grant to polish the game and that really helped us find a publisher.’
In early 2020, Massive Monster’s UK-based director began to send pitch decks to publishers in London.
‘We needed development funding,’ says Wilton. ‘We tried quite a few publishers before we found Devolver Digital. They were great and things happened fast. It was a case of: “We like this; let’s go”.’
In April 2020, Massive Monster signed a significant contract with London-based publisher, Devolver Digital. The funding has covered two years of full-scale development and will help fund the launch. The deal means the 3 entrepreneurs now have a shot at a global hit.
Wilton says that Australian studios gain attention overseas for good reasons.
‘US and UK publishers like Australian developers,’ says Wilton. ‘They know that until recently we got very little funding but still made unique games. Our games are distinctive and overseas publishers like our look.’
Aussie developer culture is also a draw, according to Wilton. ‘We don’t have many big studios in Australia, so our developers are all working in small companies,’ he says. ‘This means we have to be creative to get games going.’
Wilton says that the current exchange rate makes Australian studios competitive. And the combination of uniqueness, creativity and competitiveness gives Aussie developers huge credibility in overseas markets.
‘There’s definitely prestige in partnering with an Australian studio at the moment,’ he says. ‘Looking at today’s hit games, you’d be surprised how many have had Aussie developers working on them.’
One other thing makes the Australian digital games industry stand out, according to Wilton: comradery
‘We are an isolated community made up of small studios, so there’s a real desire to help each other out,’ he says. ‘To make indie games you need people who can do a bit of everything – but you also need contacts. We farm out jobs to people we know. That makes us agile and very efficient.’
Cult of the Lamb is scheduled for release on 11 August and Wilton is ambitious.
‘We want to grow and build a more sustainable studio,’ he says. ‘We don’t have offices at the moment: but that just shows what Australian indie studios can do.’
The 11 August launch of Cult of the Lamb was an epic success. The company sold more than 1 million games in its first week.
International investors are buying into the Australian games industry. The Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) is committed to helping international investors find opportunities.